Artspace kicks off public meetings in Springdale

Posted: January 31, 2018 at 1:06 a.m.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/J.T. WAMPLER Artist Shawna Elliott paints Thursday at 1 Seventeen Create in Springdale. The space features artists’ work space as well as gallery and exhibition space. The Walton Family Foundation has partnered with national nonprofit group Artspace on a $400,000 grant to develop space for artists and creatives to live, work, exhibit and perform. Artspace will lead public meetings centered around arts-driven economic development and conduct a feasibility and market study for Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers and Bentonville, as well as tour prospective sites for development.

SPRINGDALE -- The creative momentum, available buildings and population growth give the city great potential for projects to provide affordable living and working space for artists, Wendy Holmes, vice president of consulting and strategic partnerships for Artspace, said Tuesday.

Artspace is a Minneapolis-based nonprofit group whose mission is to create, foster and preserve permanently affordable space for artists and arts organizations.

Bentonville meeting

Artspace’s next public meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Haxton Road Studios, 222 SE Second St. in Bentonville.

There is an event page on Facebook that can be found by searching Artspace Public Meeting - Bentonville.

Source: Staff report

It, with the support of a $400,000 Walton Family Foundation grant, is studying the need for artist space in Northwest Arkansas. The region's four largest cities will be included in the study. The first public meeting was held Tuesday evening at the Arts Center of the Ozarks in Springdale.

A one-year partnership between the foundation and Artspace will provide a map for artists to have an affordable place to work, live, host exhibitions and perform.

Only about 10 percent of artists are able to make enough money to live solely on their creative pursuits, yet artists "contribute so much to the world that we live in," Holmes said.

"Creative people are what make a region and a city rich," she said. "They're what make people want to stay, and they're what creates the soul of the community."

Artspace is looking at the potential for one project in each of the four cities -- Springdale, Bentonville, Fayetteville and Rogers.

Its representatives held focus groups in Springdale with artists, business and civic leaders and potential donors Monday, Holmes said.

The top five types of spaces artists said were needed included makers space, culinary space, space for art supplies, live-work spaces and exhibition space, she said.

Holmes and Anna Growcott, director of consulting and strategic partnerships for Artspace, walked the nearly 100 attendees through the six components of community-led development. The components were the project concept, the arts market, local leadership, funding and financing, potential sites and alignment with broader community goals.

Project concepts could look like a live-work space, a community space with flexible use, an artist-in-residency program, a collaborative space, retail space or a performance and event space, Growcott said.

The current arts market will be evaluated by looking at who is a part of it, though it's hard to define what constitutes an artist, she said, referring to an incomplete list of 27 types of art.

"If you consider yourself an artist, we will too," Growcott said.

There are various ways to pay for an affordable artist space, but it's likely there will be public and private partnerships involved, Holmes said.

The more alignment with the broader community goals, the more resources and support there will be for these projects, she said. It may be drivers such as cultural preservation, historical structure preservation or the sustaining of creative businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Tuesday's presentation was promising, said Apryl Okoroafor, an artist in attendance representing the nonprofit Artists of Northwest Arkansas and The Art Experience.

Okoroafor said she thought the project scope would be limited to live-work spaces for artists and was pleased to hear the focus could be more broad to include multipurpose spaces.

It's a challenge to find meeting and display spaces, she said.

"We are scraping the barrels trying to find the stuff that we need, and it's needed throughout the region."

NW News on 01/31/2018